I had it all planned out, what I would say to you. It was beautiful. But, like most times when I figure out ahead of time what needs to be said, I never spoke a word of it.
You were beyond antsy, rubbing your long legs together and pulling at the oxygen tube around your face. And, as I looked at you, all I wanted was to sit with you quietly, holding your hand, calming you as best I could.
Are you scared? I asked you. You didn't really answer, but I know that you are. This man that once so big and strong and full of activity and energy has no control over anything anymore, no say in what is done or how it's done. I would imagine it's a pretty scary place to be, somewhere between here and there, somewhere between us and those that await you.
What I wanted to tell you is simple. Your girls are waiting for you. All three. Your oldest daughter has been there the longest. I know how close you were to her. My mother and I looked through various cards you had saved from her in cigar boxes from years ago. She told me that you and Kitty had the neatest relationship, that she adored you, and that you two shared the same sense of humor. Mattie Olivia awaits, you, too. I bet she can't wait to take care of you, even in heaven. That is what made her happiest in life, taking care of the people she loved. And your youngest daughter, my mama, is there, too. She will be so glad to know you aren't confused anymore, that you aren't wheeling yourself around that nursing home looking for Mama.
We'll be fine here. We will hurt but in a different way. You were so different. A man of necessity and few words. A man that was busy until you stilled for a moment to catch a cat nap on the floor. A man that always seemed so far away to me even when you were in the room. You were from a different world, one of little emotion. But it was such a joy to see you soften and vocalize your love so much more in the past year, the hardness of you washed away by aging.
My favorite memories of you involve walks around the block. You couldn't stand to sit still, so you'd ask the little ones if we wanted to go for a walk with you. I don't remember what we talked about or if we said anything at all, but I remember your smile and your long fluid strides with legs that measured more than my entire body. I remember your garden in the back yard, rows of peppers and muscadine vines. You were so proud of what your hands had nurtured. I remember watermelons and cantaloupe in the summer, homemade ice cream, and waffles. You loved sweets, a trait I am certain I inherited from you.
It's okay to close your eyes and give in. The fear will leave your body, and you will see them once again. Go give them a hug from me.